Friday, December 30, 2011


In the modern cult of Shakespeare, it is difficult to read or hear unkind cuts of the Bard and his work.  We are accustomed to the idolization of the man, so that his human nature is often overshadowed by our admiration for his work.  William Shakespeare, a man, loved and hated, succeeded and failed, as we all do.  Presented with a balanced portrait, we would surely find parts of his personality frustrating and even ignoble.  We tend to read works such as Othello – with its very modern depiction of a bi-racial relationship and the prejudice the couple encounters – or The Merchant of Venice ­– with its Jewish merchant fiercely challenging the indignities heaped upon him by the Venetian Christian community – as the guideposts on our journey of assessing of the playwright as a man.  We read the version of Shakespeare we are seeking into his works.  If our reading of Othello or The Merchant of Venice is a progressive one, then we may see Shakespeare as enlightened well beyond his age.

But an unsettling question lingers: what if?  What if our beloved Bard is not speaking on behalf of Othello and Desdemona, but against them?  What if Shakespeare – as so many of his contemporary Englishmen were – was an anti-Semite?  What if William Shakespeare was, well, bad sometimes?

These questions, and so many more, are the foundation for the Bad Shakespeare project.  In the coming months, we hope to present productions, moments in history, images, and so forth that demonstrate that there are failings in the world of Shakespeare.  Our hope is not to denigrate the man or his work, but to entertain and to demonstrate, as Shakespeare himself wrote in The Merchant of Venice, “all that glisters is not gold.”  We hope you enjoy what you find here. 

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